Zurik: New hospital documents, new doubts on Reed's claims - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Lee Zurik Investigation: New hospital documents, new doubts on Reed's claims

File photo of Walter Reed (Source: NOLA.com) File photo of Walter Reed (Source: NOLA.com)

St. Tammany Parish Hospital released new records Friday night about the hospital's arrangement with Walter Reed and the district attorney's office. It's the second straight Friday the hospital has released records that question why Walter Reed kept $30,000 a year from the hospital.

The hospital released their yearly list of attorneys, a list the hospital says is reviewed and approved by the "board of commissioners." The hospital redacted all of the other attorneys on the list, but did leave one - the "St. Tammany Parish District Attorney."

That's critically important because the hospital has been saying it had a deal with the DA's office and paid that institution $30,000 a year for legal services. Walter Reed has said that deal was with himself personally, not the office.

But in at least three annual meetings, the board minutes show Walter Reed was "present" when the board voted on its fee structure for attorneys - a structure that shows a deal with the office, and not Walter Reed personally.

"This is just further corroboration that the hospital entered into contractual agreements with the St. Tammany district attorney's office to provide legal services for $2,500 per month, which has consistently been their position," says Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission. "And now all paperwork from the hospital confirms that arrangement."

Goyeneche says the paper trail we've uncovered raises serious questions about Reed. Goyeneche says the back of these checks from the hospital show they were deposited into the DA's office account until March 2007, when the endorsements on the back changed. Goyeneche says it's a sign the checks then started going into Reed's personal account.

If that's true then, by our calculations, it means Reed could have kept $217,500 in payments meant for the public.

And keep in mind: In addition to the checks, the board minutes and these memos, the hospital also handed over board resolutions - the last, from 2001 that show a deal with the district attorney's office and not Walter Reed.

Reed has repeatedly said the money was meant for him and not the office. He said he had a verbal agreement with a now-deceased board member to personally perform legal services, instead of the attorneys being provided by the DA's office.

"The hospital has provided proof of their position," Goyeneche says, "yet Walter Reed has only had a spokesperson answer questions about this to the public. And his explanation is that the now-deceased chairman of the hospital board, in 1995, gave him instructions to convert these funds to personal use. Yet as an attorney he would know that, if he was at those meetings in 1995 and subsequent, the vote of the entire board of directors would be controlling over the expressions of one member of that board."

We have asked Reed for a response; his campaign spokesman, Morgan Stewart, sent us this statement:

The documents released by the hospital fail to cover any of the many years prior to 2008 in which Walter served as retained attorney for the hospital.

Nothing released today changes what Mr. Reed contends was his original agreement with former Board Chair [Paul] Cordes, regarding his relationship with the hospital which began in the mid-1990s.

If the hospital thought it was hiring the District Attorney, why did they consistently write checks to Walter Reed, and not the Office of the District Attorney, District Attorney Reed, the Hon. Walter Reed, District Attorney, or Walter Reed District Attorney?

Keep in mind: the DA's office also had an agreement with Slidell Memorial Hospital. Those checks were deposited into the DA's account, and those checks were made out to "Walter Reed."

You can review the hospital's latest documents by clicking the thumbnail image below.

Thumbnail of document

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